Discrimination and Disparities challenges believers in such one-factor explanations of economic outcome differences as discrimination, exploitation or genetics.  It offers its own new analysis, based on an entirely different approach—  and backed up with empirical evidence from around the world.
            The point is not to recommend some particular policy “fix,”  but to clarify why so many policy fixes have turned out to be counterproductive, and to expose some seemingly invincible fallacies behind many of those counterproductive policies.

            The multiple, and sometimes mutually contradictory, definitions of “discrimination” are sorted out, along with the varying costs of discrimination—  to the victims, to society and even to the discriminators themselves— and the consequences of those costs in affecting behavior in different economic institutions.
            The role of chance and the pitfalls of statistics, even when the numbers themselves are accurate, are pointed out as factors in misunderstandings of the causes of disparities in such things as income, education and outcomes in the criminal justice system. This is a book not only about economics but also about public policy and social issues.

 

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“In this provocative book, Thomas Sowell turns the table on those who automatically link disparate outcomes to discrimination. He begins by focusing instead on the myriad of factors that need to come together for success. Before we can explain why people fall behind in life, we must first understand what life demands for success. Sometimes individuals have all the prerequisites but one, and consequently fall short. Native intelligence by itself does not guarantee success. Hard work is important, but nature can be capricious. Who knew that being first born is a persistent factor for success in life? The book is chock full of such pertinent observations, none of which reflect discrimination by anyone. The book is a wonderful short introduction to the thought of one of our most important social thinkers.”

—Gerald P. O'Driscoll, Jr., Senior Fellow, Cato Institute

 

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